Using Clinical Audiologic Measures to Determine Cochlear Implant Candidacy

Audiol Neurootol. 2022;27(3):235-242. doi: 10.1159/000520077. Epub 2022 Jan 17.


Introduction: Only a small percentage (6-10%) of patients who are candidates receive cochlear implants (CIs). One potential reason contributing to low usage rates may be confusion regarding which patients to refer for CI evaluation. The extent to which information provided by standard clinical audiologic assessments is sufficient for selecting appropriate CI evaluation referrals is uncertain. The objective of this study is to evaluate the capacity of standard clinical audiologic measures to differentiate CI candidates from noncandidates.

Method: The study design is a retrospective review of a prospectively maintained CI database from a university-based tertiary medical center of 518 patients undergoing CI evaluations from 2012 to 2020. Each ear of each patient was treated as an independent value. Receiver operating characteristic (ROCs) curves were constructed using aided AzBio sentence recognition scores in quiet and aided AzBio +10 dB signal-to-noise ratio scores <60% as binary classifiers for CI candidacy. For each ROC, we examined the capacity of multiple pure-tone thresholds, pure-tone average (PTA), and CNC word recognition scores (WRSs) measured under earphones to determine CI candidacy. Area under the curve ROC (AUC-ROC) values were calculated to demonstrate the capacity of each model to differentiate CI candidates from noncandidates.

Results: Variables with the greatest capacity to accurately differentiate CI candidates from noncandidates using aided AzBio in quiet scores were earphone CNC WRS, earphone pure-tone threshold at 1,000 Hz, and earphone PTA (AUC-ROC values = 0.86-0.88). Using aided AzBio +10 scores as the measure for candidacy, only CNC word recognition had a fair capacity to identify candidates (AUC-ROC value = 0.73). Based on the ROCs, a 1,000 Hz pure-tone threshold >50 dB HL, PTA >57 dB HL, and a monosyllabic WRS <60% can each serve as individual indicators for referral for CI evaluations.

Conclusion: The current study provides initial indicators for referral and a first step at developing evidence-based criteria for CI evaluation referral using standard audiologic assessments.

Keywords: Cochlear implant candidacy; Cochlear implant referrals; Guidelines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cochlear Implantation*
  • Cochlear Implants*
  • Humans
  • Recognition, Psychology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Speech Perception*